Over a weekend in March we were joined by 12 exciting Midlands-based Directors at the tipping point of their careers, working towards moving into feature films or creating a full-time career in television as a director.  Over this weekend we were joined by industry guests who told us about their careers, things they had learnt, things they wish they had known, and lots of tips for developing your career as a director.

We wanted to share some of these key learnings with everyone else too as we found them particularly interesting and useful to hear!


Building the right team is important -  just because someone is the "best" doesn't mean they are the right person for this project so being mindful of what you want to create, who 'gets it' and who you want to work with is vital.


Create the atmosphere you want to work in - A director sets the tone for the shoot, no one wants to work somewhere uncaring or unfriendly, make sure you are welcoming and treat everyone with respect and when the going gets tough you will know you have each other's backs. 


Hold space for others (and yourself) to prepare - Sometimes we feel like prep work is taking too much time, but remember being prepared will almost always be a time and cost saver. The same goes for ensuring you are taking time to work with your cast and crew - hold space for them to feel ready as much as you can.


Do your research - if you are having a conversation with a producer or commissioner make sure you know what they are looking for. Watch their other work, episodes of the show you are talking about, you don't have to know everything but it is good to be up to date


Keep the door open for others - All of our brilliant speakers talked about how important this is, the door often feels closed to new people in the industry so make sure if you find an open one not to close it along the way and bring people with you.


Don't build relationships with actors purely for the work, ensure you are factoring in wrap-around care if you are dealing with difficult themes particularly if working with young or vulnerable people. Keep in touch!


Festivals aren't the only way to share your work- make sure that you are considering online releases and other platforms too as it can open doors (and potential finance routes) that you maybe hadn't considered before and reach new audience.


Pitching should always be a two-way conversation - as much as you would like them to take on your project or you as a director it is also a time to figure out if they are a company you would like to work with


"Why Now" isn't just an annoying question - When asked "why now" (we also do this a lot, sorry!), we don't always mean why are we telling this story now as development can take years. We want you to consider why now for you too, does it make sense for you to be working on this concept at this point in your career, and why are you excited about it


Be kind to yourself! - never forget that this is the hardest part of your career and it will pass - we recognise that juggling shorts and commercial work and other jobs is challenging but as you move up the ladder you gain more space to consider just the directing work. Christopher Nolan isn't also having to think about his tax return or where his next pay cheque is coming from (We hope anyway!)


We would like to thank our brilliant speakers for joining us for the weekend and sharing so many useful insights!

  • Rebekah Fortune and Alison Rashley (The Television workshop) on Working with Actors
  • Sam Masud and Khurrum M Sultan on Directing for Television
  • Deborah Haywood and Theo James Krekis on The Journey from Shorts to Features
  • Amy O'Hara (Film4) and Al Clark (Wellington Films) on Pitching your Film
  • Anna Griffin (Griffin Pictures) and Simon Ellis on Getting Your Film in Front of an Audience

Also our incredible cohort for Directors Lab 2024, who you can find more about here.

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BFI NETWORK Midlands Directors Lab Cohort 2024

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